Monday, November 06, 2006

MySpace for Nukes?

One of the most frightening foreign policy disasters facing the world for the last two decades has been the prospect of nuclear material, or knowledge of how to build a nuclear device, falling into the hands of terrorists. One of the major pieces of evidence used to justify war with Iraq was the Nigerian Yellowcake story (supposedly Iraqi intelligence agents were trying to buy enriched uranium from Nigeria, though -- like much else about our intelligence before the war -- this later turned out to be completely false).

So if securing nuclear secrets is so important, why did the US government release documents in Arabic on the Web for anyone to come and take a gander at which contained technical details of Saddam Hussein's nuclear program from before the 1991 Gulf War?

If your major concern as a nation is to keep terrorists from learning how to build a nuclear weapon, why the hell would you publish such secrets on the Web, in the very language of the people you're in a war with?

The fact that George Bush personally ordered these documents to be released over the objections of his own experts (particularly the head of the CIA, no less!) is astonishing. But what's even worse is, he will never be held accountable for it. No one in this Administration ever has to be held responsible for anything ("Donald Rumsfeld's doing a heckuva job!"). The President of the United States personally ordered a set of documents be publicly published which contained information that might help terrorists build a nuclear bomb, and he will never have to pay the price for it. You can bet your ass if the New York Times had done the same thing, conservatives across the country would be calling them traitors and howling for them to be thrown in jail.

Even if you're a Republican, you owe it to your country to vote straight Democrat tomorrow. These incompetent clowns are a threat to our national security. The only lesson they understand or respect is defeat at the ballot box. Hopefully a Republican drubbing tomorrow will give the adult members of the Administration a lever to use to club Bush into not fucking things up any more than he already has over the next two years.

That's assuming there ARE any adults in this administration, something I am seriously starting to doubt. Honestly, releasing untranslated documents you seized from your greatest enemy that you don't know anything about on the web for the people you're at war with to use in building a nuclear device is breathtaking, awe-inspiring, nigh-unbelievable stupidity.


Anonymous said...

As a newspaper writer, there is this nagging question -- where is that line between freedom of the press and the right to know? It seems easy enough on the surface, but then questions like this arise. There was a period when some kids were calling in bomb threats to schools. The whole school would be evacuated, the dogs came in, police officers and the SWAT teams combed the school, and the students were standing outside for 1-2 hours, hungry, cold or hot and all because of a hoax. Then there were the copycats the next day. When one came in, obviously a hoax, what do you think the newspaper should have done? What comes first, the safety and welfare of the students or the public's right to know? In this case, government secrets are just that -- it's a different world where knowing just enought information can put an entire coastline in danger of being nuked. On the surface, the answer seems obvious. Digging deeper, it's not. I would, however, prefer they err on the side of not releasing the information. I'd rather explain why I kept my mouth shut than open my mouth and say, "Sorry to report 100,000 are dead." Great topic, Jeff. -- Denise

Jeff Hebert said...

I'd rather explain why I kept my mouth shut than open my mouth and say, "Sorry to report 100,000 are dead."

It's one thing to repress information you suspect is going to get people killed. It's another thing entirely to publish documents seized from your enemy without even knowing what's in them.

What's especially galling in this case is that the people who get paid to think about these things -- CIA directors, National Security Agency spooks, military leaders -- made the right call and said we shouldn't publish these documents without vetting them first. But they got overruled by political appointees who wanted to score cheap points with their base.

It's the politicizing of politics that I find galling in this case. Well, that and the fact that we published information on how to build bombs IN ARABIC. ON THE WEB.

The idiocy of this particular breach of national security is just breathtaking. We spend precious government resources tracking down who released a PowerPoint slide on the real conditions in Iraq while our own government is teaching the enemy how to nuke us better. It was a reckless, politically-motivated, idiotic stunt that directly puts our country in graver danger, and no one will ever pay a price for it because in this Administration, loyalty and politics trump competence and success every single time.

Anonymous said...

The "brilliance" of our legislative minds is truly astounding. Whereas most people would understand that aiding and abetting the enemy is an act of treason, some don't even look past what's on the surface to see what they're really doing. I remember that the POW's in the Vietnam War blinked their eyes in Morse Code to tell the government what was going on. Luckily, some sharp soldiers caught what they were doing, but they didn't broadcast it to the entire world at the time because doing so would've meant death for those men. After what happened to Rumsfeld today, I'd say that politics and loyalty only go so far. The military people are the ones whose voice counted today, and they were finally heard. Rightly so. -- Denise